Nashville hosts annual Exceptional Rodeo

Berrien County special needs children got a chance to play cowboy and cowgirl for the day at the 21st annual Exceptional Rodeo. / Doug Reardon

Now in its 21st consecutive year, the Exceptional Rodeo in Nashville has been giving local special needs children the chance to step back in time to the Wild West for over two decades.

"I can never remember not having a horse as part of our family, and that's an experience that we wanted to share with the special needs children in our community," said Crissy Staley, the Executive Director of the Berrien County Chamber of Commerce.

Staley's family has been organizing the event throughout its 21-year life span, and says the rodeo presents an opportunity for the children to have some fun and use their imaginations.

"[We wanted to] give them the opportunity to play cowboy and cowgirl for the day," Staley said. "I mean, who wouldn't want to do that instead of going to school?"

During the event, special needs children were paired up with volunteers from the community. The children were able to ride horses, rope cattle and dress up like cowboys and cowgirls.

The event precedes the 5th Annual Cotton Blossom Rodeo, which will take place Friday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m. and will continue the following Saturday at the same time.

Professional cowboys and cowgirls will ride into town to compete in riding, roping, and racing events. The rodeo is a sanctioned event and will go towards the professional riders season points total, so rodeo fans are in for a real treat in Nashville this weekend.